Sunday, March 20, 2011

What is the Meaning of Life?

This blog is not me ascribing so much as it is describing.  I'm looking around me at humanity and saying, "What do people say life is all about?  What meaning do people give their life?  Why do people get out of bed?"

Certainly I don't just write to describe, though.  I want this to be prescriptive, too.  May we be more intentional in our choices, in our actions, with our legacies.  Consider where you fit in and then where you'd like to see yourself.  What changes need to be made?  What are the baby steps to get there?

There are three sources of pleasure.

Only three things that give us joy in life.

I challenge you to add to this list.  And, yes, there is great room for overlap.

Experience--Life is about feeling deeply.  It's about seeing something new, going somewhere fresh, tasting a dish for the first time, feeling the caress of a lover in a new way or with a new lover, feeling an adrenaline rush.  This, to me, can also be about more cognitive things and not just your senses--it can be experiencing the wonder of deep, meaningful thought, creativity, self-expression, painting, singing, music, capturing beauty. There is also a profound emotional side to this source of pleasure.  Is there not a satisfaction is feeling righteous indignation?  Is there not a satisfaction sometimes in a "good cry"?  Absolutely!

What is the opposite of this source?  Pain.  So, part of a person's life who uses this source to find their life's meaning is to avoid pain.

What is the absence of this source like in person's life?  Desensitization.  Being cloyed.  Frigidity.  Anesthetization.

How can we maximize this source of joy and pleasure in our life?  Seek out activities that move us deeply.  Set aside time to experience new and old things.  Be in the moment.  Slow down.  Learn how to deal with distractions.  Just do it.  What's on your bucket list?  Do you even have a bucket list?  Stop what you're doing and make one!

Hope--The night before Christmas. The hour before seeing your love after an extended parting.  Packing for an exciting vacation.

Anticipation wells up into giddy splendor often. That's hope. What gets people through times of war, famine, death, poverty, suicidal thoughts? Hope. Without a future it is impossible to be thankful in any real sense and, therefore, it is impossible to be happy without hope. Hope keeps us alive when everything else is stripped away.

This source gets tied into our life purposes in many ways.  One of the greatest is in goal setting.  Goals are places we can anticipate being someday that fills us with hope.  Hope about becoming a more virtuous person, a more spiritual person, a person with a better lot in life.

Hope and love kiss when we spend our lives trying to promote a cause, a mission.  Saving the world, the whales, people's souls.  Making the world a better, more just, verdant and loving place.

What's the opposite of hope?  Dread. Fear.  Anxiety.  Angst.

What's its absence?  Apathy.  Powerlessness.  Being distracted from the future with past/present.

How can we maximize our pleasure gained from hope?  Setting goals for yourself and what you'd like to accomplish with your life.  What do you want to change about yourself?  Your health?  Your character?  Your occupation?  Your little part of the world that you live in?  The whole world?  How do you want to be remembered?  What are you passionate about?  What gets you angry?  I've heard and thinks its true that what makes you the angriest about the world might be what you're called to help fix. :)

Love--It's all about love.  We're a deeply communal species and because we couldn't survive without each other (evolutionarily) we can't survive without each other (existentially).

People that focus on this for their life's purpose tend to elevate the ideals of true love, soul mates, love at first sight or family, friends, community, affinity groups, church (separate from religion).

What's the opposite of love?  Hate.  What's it's absence?   Coma of the soul.  Anhedonia.  Indifference.  Apathy.  Bleak.  Bland.

How can we foster this purpose for life?  Set aside time.  Make new friends.  Connect with old.  Choose careers, living locations that facilitate spending quantity time with loved ones.  Schedule quality time for events, trips and memories.


  • Experiences
    • Hedonism
    • Neophilia
    • Adrenaline junkies
    • Philomath
    • Artistry
  • Hope
    • Mission/cause
    • Achievements
    • Self-improvement
    • Spiritual growth
  • Love
    • Family
    • Romance
    • Friends
    • Community

Feedback please!

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